Publishing A Book: The Basics

There are so many wonderful blogs about writing out there, and I might be a small fish in a big pond, but I still find it important to write about the basics ever so often.

The biggest thing which I believe that people forget is at the same time it is hard to get a book published it is also easy to get a book published, a paradox I know. It’s an interesting thing this book publishing industry. Of course there are so many thing that a writer can do, but ten things always stick out in mind.

The biggest thing is one which a writing teacher told me: “A first draft isn’t publishable. You need to drop about 150 off this manuscript”

No not words, she didn’t mean words. She didn’t mean paragraphs, that would have been nice, she meant 150 pages.

Yes 150 pages, just cut them, they didn’t do anything for the book, which was at the time 250. I was mad, I thought my writing was good, and it wasn’t and this was the 3rd draft, and I’m still working on it.

I have to mention Colin at this point, a great poet, and a wonderful writer, and who has graciously let me read his work. I recall my teacher saying the same thing, and Colin making the same comments as me. What a difference 10 years makes!

Still by listening to my teacher way back then I’ve become a better writer and I’ve learned the best compliment can be found in criticism.

Today’s basics: Listen to others, especially the ones who really want you to succeed, be wary of those who say you can’t write, but take everything with a grain of salt. What about for you?


  • Christy Pinheiro, EA ABA

    The hardest part of producing a manuscript isn't the writing– it's the pruning, afterwards.

    It's like taking all the dead leaves off a rosebush so you can really focus on the roses.

    It's the hardest part, letting go of those dead leaves.

  • Jill Edmondson

    It definitely is hard to prune & trim after completing a manuscript. I heard it described as "kill your darlings" and that seems to fit.

    Take comfort though… I just read an article about TS Eliot and the writing of The Waste Land. ee cummings was his editor and he cut more than 100 lines from Waste Land!

    (See a book called 'Catch 21' for details about the behind scenes story of the story).

    Cheers, Jill
    "Blood and Groom" is now in stores!

  • Scobberlotcher

    You are absolutely right about trimming one's work. Writing is rewriting, plain and simple. You have to become an objective editor after you've fallen in love with your ms.. It's hard to play two roles – writer/editor – but it's essential. 🙂 Good post!

  • Colin T Mercer

    Thank you for mentioning my name Rebecca the secret to my writing is in the listening of advice and observation of situations. The novel I am currently writing has been clipped hard in areas with your advice and the growth is strong and central. Time will tell how it works out, being my first big novel I appreciate your experiance. Being a poet I can express the flowers.

    Recards Colin T Mercer
    Author of: For Irish Eyes

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